GAME, SET, MATCH!

I don’t much like birthdays. I more or less celebrate mine as another year avoiding the alternative. “One more trip around the Sun!” It seems to be too hard to get people together to celebrate and then there is the memory of a heart attack on the birthday I survived in 2006. This is the first birthday after my “complete” retirement. Age does not look good on me! Even when you look up historical events occurring on April 9, you find out it is pretty dismal. Lee surrenders to Grant, the Battle of This, the Battle of That, Babe Ruth is rushed to the hospital…I wonder if it was too many hot dogs or too much beer?

This birthday was a little different. I got a letter on April 6th three days before my birthday. It was addressed to both Linda Gail and myself with a note on the back instructing us not to open it until April 8th. Really? That is almost like waving a red flag in front of a bull. I consider Linda Gail to be the stalwart person in our relationship when it comes to following instructions like “DO NOT OPEN UNTIL….” But out of her beautiful mouth came the question, “Are we really going to wait until April the eighth?” We did with much difficulty. I knew it wasn’t birthday wishes to me or someone was confused about my exact birthdate. It turned out to be just that…birthday wishes…just not mine. It was still one of the nicest birthday presents I could get.

The return address included only a last name, Bryson, from Charleston. Who do we know from Charleston named Bryson? Mandi Copeland now named Bryson! Mandi was turning forty on April 8th and had taken the time to write and thank everyone who had had a positive effect or influence on her life. Despite my disbelief of a forty-year-old Mandi, I was honored to have been included and her recognition of my contribution made both my day and the next, the tenth anniversary of my heart attack and sixty-sixth anniversary of my birth. It was a beautiful tribute, not only to us but also to her.

Mandi Copeland was one of my wife’s tennis players and a student trainer who graduated from Riverside in the mid-nineties. Mandi was MORE than just a player and a trainer. She had all of the outward signs of a happy-go-lucky extrovert, which she was, but her huge smile covered a competitive streak “river deep and mountain high.” She was a bull “in a china shop” in the way she approached tennis, playing in a manner more in tune with one of my defensive linemen than the “Quiet Please” tennis crowd. With her powerful serve and overhand it was “ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK” and if that didn’t work she would revert to “ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK” AGAIN!

As a student and player, Mandi’s career at RHS was very successful. The tennis team went to the high school version of the “Final Four” all four of her years and played for a State Championship. They should have played for another one but sometimes the “little gods” controlling sporting events throw monkey wrenches into the gears and the team was upset by a Clinton team they had defeated handily just weeks before. The weather “gods” had also gotten involved and the semis had to be postponed requiring both teams to be prepared to travel to Columbia as soon as the match was completed in order to play the finals the next day.

What do you do with a packed van filled with weepy young tennis players? What else, you bring them to “Casa de Miller” for a weekend of “wound licking” courtesy of Coach Porter-Miller and her loyal “Indian companion” Tonto, I mean Coach Miller. I knew something was up just by the way Coach Porter-Miller approached me. How could I say no? No one could ask for a better coach’s wife and I was bound and determined to be a good coach’s husband.

An evening filled with games, gossip and pizza followed by sleeping pallets on the floor, if we slept at all. The next morning a true country breakfast that might have included Hardee’s biscuits was served before a morning spent hiking up and sliding down the “gently rolling” ninety acres of land around our house. I don’t know who had more fun but I am sure the wounds had been healed by the time they all departed. I also don’t know who the brains of the team were but I know Mandi was the heart and the foundation. By Linda’s own description she was the “rock upon which the team was built.” When Mandi graduated and went off to Florida State it was almost like losing a family member. You may be gone but you certainly are not forgotten.

Mandi would become the first person I NEVER wanted in my dugout…a female. I had withstood request to bring on “batgirls.” Once I had even taken “applications” for batgirls but at the last moment chickened out. Girls in the dugout equal major distractions for teen aged boys. I know I used to be one. With the changing landscape of athletics, I did not have a choice when it came to trainers. Trainers and student trainers WOULD have access to your teams regardless of their gender. It turned out that it was a good thing, something I got used to quite quickly and later wondered what the big deal was about. Mandi made it possible because of her maturity and her professional attitude. It did take some getting used to…for the head coach not the team. I also had to mind my tongue, something I needed to do but only had moderate success in doing. A nickel for every time I turned my head, whispered an “expletive deleted” and followed it with a “Sorry about that Mandi.” Usually she would say, “It’s okay Coach, I’ve heard it before.” Yep, probably about a minute ago.

Mandi was one of the special ones, one of many special ones who would define what Linda and I did for most of our thirty-year marriage. For me it would take retirement to realize that I had coached kids and not just a sport. Linda Gail realized it much sooner. Not having kids around due to our retirement has been challenging…until you get a letter from “a Mandi.” Mandi who has followed us into athletics herself, not that Linda Gail and I take credit for it. We are just happy we didn’t screw up and kill her desire.

The Mandis of our life made teaching and coaching worth the long hours for not enough pay. It is usually many years before a former teacher or coach finds out what effect we had on someone’s life and in some cases it is too late when we find it out. Thanks for letting us know before it was too late. I would say it arrived at exactly the right time.
We both love you.
Coach Miller and Coach Porter-M.

For more FEEL GOOD non-fiction by Don Miller go to http://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

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REMEMBERENCE

As we pause to recognize those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom this Memorial Day I am troubled over some of the reactions to President Obama’s visit to Japan and the site of the first nuclear bomb drop at Hiroshima. This goes beyond the rumors that he might apologize for an act that he characterized as evil. It was the reaction to his characterization that troubles me and not the reaction to a rumor that did not take place.

War is evil and yet we glorify it. I grew up in an age not far removed from World War Two and spent many hours during my childhood playing “war.” I see nothing wrong with it but I never pretended to be Paul Tibbits in the Enola Gay either. I was glorifying the men who stormed the beaches at Normandy, Sicily, and too many islands in the Pacific. I glorify all of the men and women who have served in all of our wars, especially those who gave the ultimate price and believe that our lawmakers have abandoned many of our vets. I glorify our men and women who serve but I will never glorify the act of war. War is evil and shows the worst that humanity has to offer even when it is a necessary evil and you are on the side of “God.”

One of those worsts acts was the use of the nuclear bomb, a truly evil action, even by President Truman’s admission. A truly NECESSARY evil action that Truman was justified in making to end a war that had already ended too many lives. I can’t imagine the personal deliberation Mr. Truman wrestled with coming to the discussion to use the A Bomb but agree with its use. Evil defeating evil…how bizarre.

I don’t know how anyone would not want a nuclear free world? It isn’t going to happen, nor is there going to be world peace. Should we not strive for it though? Should turning the Middle East into a parking lot be the FIRST OBJECTIVE…or even the last. Those of us in the Baby Boomer generation grew up with the fear of “massive retaliation” and “preemptive first strikes.” Alerts were issued cautioning us to not eat snow cream or root vegetables because of high levels of radiation caused by too many nuclear tests. Teachers attempting to convince us that we could survive a nuclear attack by sitting under a desk with a book over our heads. Is this a necessary evil? Until everyone beats their “swords into ploughshares” I would say yes but I still do not support the evil.

We should never apologize but we should never forget it any more than we should forget the price our military paid to end World War Two or any other war. “A Bomb Dome” in Hiroshima should always be a symbol of the evil of war as should the ovens at Auschwitz or the redoubts at Vicksburg. Hiroshima should always be a symbol for the destructive power of nuclear weapons and a reminder of the cost of their use. We should also read what President Obama said, it was a long time needing to be said.

More nonfiction by Don Miller is available at http://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

AN OLD FIG TREE

Twenty-five years ago I took a cutting from the old fig tree gracing my aunt’s and grandmother’s backyard. It is a “common” fig which needs no male plant to pollinate and for some reason sounds lonely to me. Later I planted another “younger” tree, grown from a cutting from my original tree, which makes it a grandchild of sorts. I seem to be rambling and a bit morose. I should reframe from drinking another adult beverage until I finish this.

My fig trees haven’t done well unless you consider having JUST survived to be doing well. It’s my home’s location and the weather’s timing. Sitting in the foothills of the Blue Ridge I live in the area known both as the “Dark Corner” and the “Thermal Belt.” The name Dark Corner has no bearing upon my fig trees but the Thermal Belt does. Generally, our weather is not as cool as the surrounding areas…except when it is. Every year the weather seems to throw us a curve just after my fig trees have put out their leaves and first fruit. The threat of frost or freezing temperatures sends fruit growers, along with me, into a frenzy of activity and prayer while we attempt to save our plants. Many years my fig trees have been killed all the way back to the roots. Weeks would pass as I checked them daily hoping to see a bit of green after calling family members to ask if they had grown a tree from the original’s cuttings. No one has an original fig tree “relative” but so far my figs have rewarded me with new growth from the roots every time they were killed back despite looking to be in sad shape.

In many ways my fig trees remind me of my grandmother as she battled through the gray months of winter. She only slightly tolerated the winter and only those days she could get outside. My “younger” grandmother attempted to find ways to stay busy on overly cold and gloomy days which were any day she could not get outside. On those sunless and dismal days, Nannie would write her thoughts on spiral bound notebooks and stare out her window or sew. Patchwork quilts seemed to be her preference although she would sometimes use a pattern and create dresses from repurposed “feed sacks.” To the untrained eye the prized cloth scraps making up her quilt seemed to be laid out in a disordered clutter. This was despite her having studied over the bright and irregular patches for hours before placing them just right…the way she wanted them. Many of those oddly matched patches were memories; a part of an old shirt Paw Paw had worn, a favorite dress, or possibly something worn by a child or a grandchild. I wish I had asked her about their meaning but stupid me I never did. In the late winter she would begin to perk up when the mail brought an almanac or a seed catalogue. At least she was planning for the spring.

Later in her life Nannie took up painting. Quite well I might add. A kind of Grandmother Moses, she painted fishing lakes, barns, landscapes, churches and flowers. Knowing my grandmother this choice of subject was not a surprise. Nannie found her new talent by completing a painting my mother had begun before she lost the ability to sit up and hold on to her brushes. In my family a supreme being seems to decree that if we have any talent it will not manifest itself until the “autumn years” of our life. As Nannie went into her winter years’ poor eyesight and arthritis made it harder for her to bounce back but bounce back she did. Just like my fig trees and her spring flowers Nannie always came alive in the spring…until she didn’t at the age of ninety-eight. She died in the cold of February, just short of spring.

I find myself saying things my grandmother might have said and doing things she might have done. These days I don’t tolerate winter any better than she did or my fig trees do. I have taken up writing but I am not sure it is a talent or a curse, especially for those who choose to read my stories. I spent this past winter suffering through sore knees and a bad back to the point of giving up running for nearly four months until spring came with its annual rebirth. It’s now late May and I am running slowly again; answering a Siren’s call I can’t quite ignore. I feel my spirits rising while my fig puts out new growth from its roots reminding me of my grandmother pulling weeds, hoeing between her rows of beans or fishing. Maybe I can keep winter from lasting quite as long or at least protect my fig trees from that last cold snap during early spring. I will also never complain about the heat and humidity of summer again and hope Indian Summer holds on even longer.

More nonfiction by Don Miller is available at http://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

LAUNCHING JUNE 19TH.

I am very fortunate and honored to be included in the multi-contributor anthology, “Why Black Lives Matter (Too)”!

Recognizing that the fight for social justice and equality is bigger than any one person and that there is room for diverse talents and expertise of anyone who is committed to freedom, this multi-contributor anthology comprises curated essays written by 50 social justice advocates from across the nation.

Our release date, June 19th, is set to coincide with Juneteenth—also known as Independence Day or Freedom Day—a holiday commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in June 1865, and more generally the emancipation of African American slaves throughout the Confederate South.

Book Summary: The Black Lives Matter movement evolved as a protest against police brutality against unarmed Black men. This book extends beyond police brutality to revolutionize the national conversation about racial injustice and inequality and advocate for freedom and justice for all Black Americans. Addressing a range of hot button issues and racial disparities that disproportionately impact the Black community, this is a call to action that will challenge you to confront your long-held values and beliefs about Black lives and confront your own white privilege and fragility as you examine racial justice and equality in a revolutionary way.

All proceeds will benefit The Sentencing Project, a leader in the effort to bring national attention to disturbing trends and inequities in the criminal justice system through the publication of groundbreaking research, aggressive media campaigns and strategic advocacy for policy reform. Our gift to the organization will support their efforts to promote reforms in sentencing policy, address unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocate for alternatives to incarceration.
-Dr. Mary Ann Canty Merrill

“Why Black Lives Matter (Too)”! can be purchased at the following link: http://www.amazon.com/Why-Black-Lives-Matter-Too/dp/1524601209/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1463924577&sr=1-1&keywords=why+black+lives+matter+too

MY COLONOSCOPY …OBSERVATIONS OF HUMOR

No, No, No, No! Don’t let me wake up! DON’T LET ME WAKE UP! Just let me finish this dream…SH@T FIRE! It was such a great dream. It was about…okay you will have to take my word for it…actually I will have to take my own word for it. How quickly a drug induced dream disintegrates. My colonoscopy has completed my 100 000-mile checkup. Drat! I just remembered I have to have that other test. Glad my GP has slender fingers.

All is well except the lost memory of my dream and I DO understand why people become drug addicts. I wonder if I can have another colonoscopy next week without the prep…OR MAYBE JUST THE DRUGS. Why is the prep timed so it will hit in the middle of the night and how much Miralax can be dissolved in Gatorade?
My doctor says he found nothing so I guess I can’t have another one next week or the drugs. I am surprised he didn’t find something. I would say from the way I feel he should have found Amelia Earhart’s missing airplane or Genghis Khan’s burial site. Wow, he even took pictures. No I will not share them with you but I always knew I had an inner beauty and now I have the pictures to prove it. I also have a bad taste in my mouth. You don’t suppose…?

I am in recovery now with a chorus of other recovering patients. I say chorus because we are serenading each other with “Trumpets (NON) Voluntary!” Who knew air being forced up your intestinal tract would cause such “music.” You know when you blow up a balloon and let the air escape by stretching the little opening? I am sure the nurses would prefer rooms with real doors instead of the pull around dividers. They must be used to the trumpeting and thank goodness it is not very noxious. My recovery nurse did not laugh when I asked if she wanted to pull my finger.

There is something demeaning about lying on your side and having a video camera threaded up a couple of dozen feet of intestine through your…well, you know. Especially demeaning when one of the “team” members is a cute, young brunette. I know, I know I am a happily married male in my late summer or early autumn years. But I ain’t dead and I would prefer to put my best foot forward…or six inches forward. In a way I guess it is. I wonder who has to clean the camera? You went to college for four years to do this?

I wonder if the five-person team jokes about MY predicament? Why does it take five people? More embarrassment or more jokes. Little snide remarks like “Hey and now you know how a puppet feels” or “In some states we’d be married now.” “I’m at the top of my game but at the bottom of yours.” I wonder if my wife asked my doctor to check for my head? She did tell me she didn’t understand why I even need a colonoscopy. With my head so far up my butt I should be able to check for myself.

When I had my first colonoscopy I embarrassed my wife when I asked my doctor if I had heard him correctly? “Did you say I had a perfect asshole or I was a perfect asshole?” Those of you who know me will agree that it was probably NOT THE DRUGS talking and will agree on what the doctor actually said. Those who don’t know me, IT WAS NOT THE DRUGS talking. I promised my wife this time around I would not embarrass her…and I didn’t. Hope she doesn’t read this.

More nonfiction by Don Miller is available at http://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

COCKSURE….

Out of total boredom I listened to a political pundit on the radio. It really doesn’t matter what his name was or which side of the political argument he was on but in regard to truth in advertising, he was a conservative. I live in South Carolina; what else would he have been? What struck me was his sureness…as in his COCKSURENESS. “As sure as a cock!” Isn’t that what the word means? As arrogant and self-confident as a strutting barnyard COCK! For some reason I mentally saw a parading peacock, his feather’s all preened and fanned out as he metaphorically pranced his mating dance to attract his peafowl of a “listening audience.”

I have never been cocksure of anything…until after the fact, and sometimes even then I am not sure. Three marriages will make you less than cocksure. As soon as I wake up in the morning I am cocksure I am alive…well after I have resuscitated myself with my first cup of coffee. You can’t be dead if you ache as badly as I do can you? I am also “cock-of-the-walk sure” if I don’t hurry to the bathroom upon arising there is going to be a flood of “biblical proportions” because it has happened before. If it is snowing outside I am cocksure it is PROBABLY cold or if I zip up too quickly I might have a painful experience. It doesn’t stop me from zipping up the old beany weeny anyway or walking outside to make cocksure THE WEATHER IS COLD!

What I am REALLY not cocksure about is politics, which is a similar experience to zipping up the old beany weeny in my pants as far as I am concerned. My pundit seemed NOT to have my problem. He knew exactly what to do in order to correct all of our country’s ills from transgender bathroom rights to world peace. I got the idea his problem solving involved only our Second Amendment rights and nuclear weapons. He was cocksure about how stupid the present administration was and how it was responsible for everything negative from my colonoscopy this morning to a bird mysteriously dying in the Altiplano.

When I looked up synonyms for cocksure in the Oxford Online Dictionary I was rewarded with arrogant, conceited, overweening, overconfident, cocky, proud, vain, self-important, egotistical, presumptuous, smug, patronizing, pompous, high and mighty and finally, puffed up. I admit I had to look up overweening which means showing excessive confidence or pride. I believe all of the pundits, mine in particular, have some or all of these traits and more. My pundit understands that hatred sells only slightly less well than sex but much better than the truth. Why did the Oxford Dictionary leave out narcissistic?

I decided to give my pundit the benefit of the doubt and looked up his qualifications to be a pundit. Let’s see, a degree in Poly Sci? Economics? Basket Weaving? Now I know why he views all of academia to be “liberal, left-wing, Commie hippy freaks.” He spent very little time in institutions of higher learning except for a football game or two. My pundit has had a long career in radio and TV which I am sure is as much like the real world as is any social media political post. My “peacock” is no more “educated” than I am, except that he knows what sells on television and radio. I thought the word pundit was a Hindu word meaning “an expert in a particular subject or field who is frequently called on to give opinions about it to the public.” Well mine certainly has the opinion part of the definition down. Don’t get me wrong, college educated is not the end all but I would like my pundits to be able to do something more than turn on a microphone and sell advertising. Can you receive a Bachelor of Science in BS? Get it? A BS in BS. Quit laughing it wasn’t that funny.

I mentally see my grandmother approaching the chicken coop next to our old barn, slowly reaching through the chicken wire door and snatching up a young rooster. As she grabbed the cockerel there was an explosion of feathers from wing flapping but to no avail. A short stroke of her ax, followed by an erratic, headless run, and all was quiet. Something the political pundit might want to think about, “You’re only a short stroke of an ax from the metaphorical and silent cooking pot.”

More nonfiction by Don Miller is available at http://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

LIGHTNIN’ BUGS

“A dark night, lightened up by thousands of glowing fireflies… It’s magical…”
― Ama H. Vanniarachchy

I sat outside last evening celebrating the spring of my sixty-sixth year. I was happily enjoying a cigar and a dark and amber adult beverage while an evening breeze was being kicked up by a distant thunderstorm. Far away according to my weather app, the storm was close enough to cause the “rain” frogs to break in to a calliope of croaking “music” and my puppy dogs to escape to the shelter of my home. As I watched a rising thunderhead moving south of me I saw a small winking light in one of our black walnut trees…followed by another. It was a “blink, blink” followed by a second “blink, blink” in a code I did not understand. “Lightnin’ bugs” had made their early May appearance.

Late one evening several decades ago, a late-night, spring thunderstorm had knocked off our power just long enough for our thirty-year-old pump to lose its prime. I made the dark and scary trip down to the spring my pump fed from and began the process of priming it. Our old pump was located above a cistern created by the previous owner in the 1950s to catch the spring water escaping from under a very large oak tree. As I bent over and tried to concentrate on priming rather than my fears, I felt I had company. Expecting to find a bear, bobcat or vampire eyeing me as a meal, I instead beheld an eerie sight as fireflies began to awake from their winter hideaways and flash their little mating signal. “Come here. I am ready for you to find me. It is time for us to propagate the species.” Not very romantic but we are talking about fireflies and I don’t think they know the words to “You Light Up My Life….” What made their emergence eerie was the fact they had risen to no higher than three feet above the ground and were all blinking in sequence with each other. I was amazed and just a bit fearful. Twenty-eight years later, they still make their appearance in early May but I’ve never seen their group emergence since. A once in a lifetime occurrence? If it was, it was worth it.

Most of us have memories of fireflies. Before computers games, Play Stations, IPads and adulthood we ran barefoot through the early evening dew as twilight fell, an old canning or jelly jar at the ready, trying to see how many fireflies one might gather between supper and bed time. Did you let yours go? I have a memory of our young daughter, Ashley, no more than four or five years old, running and laughing with Linda-Gail while they filled her jar. I had punched breathing holes in the canning lid the same way my grandmother had punched holes in mine so my brother and I could chase the flashing lights through the privet hedge behind her house. As the most dreaded hour of the day approached, bed time, Ashley refused to part with her lightning bug filled jar, intently watching them as she bathed and later when she curled up with them in her bed. When we checked on her later, I found her still awake and grinning like the “Cheshire Cat.” She slowly pointed to the ceiling and said, “Look flashing stars.” A decade later during a college visit, I found that she had glued florescent stars to the ceiling of her bedroom and I could not help but remember and smile.

After I saw my two lightning bugs, and in spite of my fear of the local bear who periodically tears down my fence and steals my trash, I could not curb my curiosity and walked to the backside of my yard bordering the stream. I had hopes I might see the lightning bug’s group emergence again. There was nothing but darkness and disappointment to greet me, not the silent chorus of lights I was hoping for. Maybe tomorrow night.

Disappointment was short lived. My thoughts wandered to Ashley and my red haired little monkey, granddaughter Miller. It won’t be long until she will be old enough to chase lightning bugs on her own. God, please give us the energy to be able to chase them with her.

More nonfiction by Don Miller is available at http://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

THE BURDEN OF FRIENDSHIP-GENTLE RANT ALERT

The most infamous tow truck owner in the South…maybe nationwide…well on Facebook at least, is a friend of mine. Is…not was…! He is a friend of mine despite my social liberalism and his Trump leanings. Just so we understand his leanings, were he the Tower of Pizza, he would have fallen over into Trump’s lap by now. No I’m not going to divulge his name but I will call him Sampson. My “conservative, Trump supporting, gun toting, Christian values spouting and I refuse to tow Bernie supporters” friend started a wee bit of a furor when “God told him” to leave a handicapped woman on the side of the road because of her “Bernie” bumper sticker. Sampson says he did not know she was handicapped, despite her handicapped sticker, and I believe him. I am sure he didn’t see it because the Sampson I know would not have ignored a handicapped sticker. I am sure he was simply blinded by the light given off from the “Feel the Bern” sticker. Look guys, sometimes I can’t see an elephant sleeping under my nose or the food I dropped on the floor so I am not going to throw stones.

I am very disappointed in Sampson but I’m not going to abandon him. Abandonment is not what friends do even when they disagree with each other or one is disappointed in the other. Sampson has never been anything but kind, straight forward and above board with me and my wife Linda Gail. I’ve bought several cars from him, dined with him, shot the bull with him and borrowed equipment and tools from him. I admit Sampson is a “wheeler dealer” and probably should have named his company “Anything For a Buck!” but wheeling and dealing is not illegal…maybe. Besides, he has not tried to steal my bass boat or woo my wife so I am not going to throw him under his tow truck. Did I write that in the correct order?

I won’t desert him but I won’t defend him either. While I defend his right to leave anyone on the side of the road he chooses, I won’t defend his actual action or his decision. Sampson was out and out wrong. Good Samaritans don’t leave people stranded and the God I worship would not tell me to “leave the lady socialist on the road,” handicapped or not. The situation could have been handled differently and Sampson should make his lack of trust in “communist left wing hippy freaks” known and mention his adversion upfront.

Lack of trust may not be the whole issue but rather out and out hatred. Not necessarily hatred on Sampson’s part but rather the social and cultural atmosphere we find ourselves inhaling. My brother tells me all of the time, “It’s not Trump. People just want change. People are fed up.” I agree with him about being fed up but I fear Sampson’s presidential choice, Mr. Trump, is using our hatred and bigotry, along with the desire for change, to power his campaign. People are no longer nice to each other, especially with the anonymity of social media. Any idiot with a computer can say whatever he wants to without the fear of getting kicked in the crotch. Worse are the creative non-idiots with an agenda to push who play to the folks who think everything on the internet is true. Trump did not create this scenario and may not be a bigoted racist himself but I believe he is using bigotry and racism to his advantage.

Hitler used mass media to create a “Let’s Make Germany Great Again” campaign along with non-Aryans as scapegoats to give “good Germans” someone to hate and a focus for their energies. Mr. Trump has just taken the next natural step, utilizing social media to create a “Let’s Make America Great Again” campaign and has used most every American fear, except our fear of clowns, as a reason to create scapegoats for us to focus our hate and energies. Clowns may yet be utilized as soon as Mrs. Clinton secures her party’s nomination. Before someone points out Godwin’s Law, yes I did compare Trump to Hitler but only his methods and he has had much help from the trolls that lurk near “the bridge” known as social media.(1) Despite Hitler’s track record, I believe Trump to be infinitely more dangerous. After all, if he wins the election he will have his finger on the nuclear trigger surrounded by a group of minions yelling, “Push it! Push it! Push it! We dare you!”

Differences in political opinions can make friendships challenging and interesting but should not end friendships. When I finally talk to Sampson I will tell him that I am disappointed and why. He will listen intently and then defend himself. There may even be a little yelling involved but at the end of the day, I won’t leave until I am sure we are still friends or when the ambulance leaves to take me away. I am guessing I should leave my car with the COEXIST sticker at home. I shouldn’t be taking chances at my age.

(1)Reference is from the Norwegian fairytale “THREE BILLIE GOATS GRUFF.”

More nonfiction by Don Miller is available at http://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

OH HELL, NO!

“Oh, hell no!” I just got a look at myself in the mirror. Note to self, just because you have to pee first thing in the morning does not mean you have to look in the mirror while you are doing it. Those are not bags under your eyes those are freaking steamer trunks. Weren’t you just dreaming about “frolicking in fields of green with…?” Just moments ago you didn’t look like your image in the mirror…but then, “You guess she might look differently and aren’t you a little old for wet dreams?” Note to self, “Keep the light off!”

Okay time to meet the day…” Why am I standing in front of the open freezer?” Oh yeah, blueberries for the oatmeal. “Sleepy Self” don’t you need to fix your oatmeal first and what about your coffee?” Yeah, coffee would be wise and I need to get it in me quickly it would seem. “Hello clock. What time is it anyway?” “Oh, hell no!” Three thirty in the FREAKING AM? Sure glad I didn’t fix the coffee. Let’s try the recliner, I do not need to create another “Oh, hell no!” moment and wake Linda Gail.

“Oh, hell no!” Didn’t I just go to the bathroom…Oh yeah I fell asleep in the recliner. What is that “thingy” staring up at me? Didn’t we have a conversation about wet dreams? How stupid do men look running to the bathroom with that? “Sleepy Self” didn’t you pay attention? NO LIGHTS EVER! Your steamer trunks have turned into boxcars. Okay, what time is it? Whew! A reasonable hour and now you really can meet the day. COFFEE IS NEEDED! Why is the oatmeal tube in the freezer? The Quaker is freezing to death. “Oh, hell no!” WHERE DID I PUT THE NO LONGER FROZEN BLUEBERRIES? Great, they’re next to the coffee on top of the cabinet. “OH, hell no!” What a day…but at least I’m not going to school!

More nonfiction by Don Miller is available at http://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

AH…SPRING

Wow! An actual spring this year. Most years we simple go from the dead of winter to the height of summer in a twenty-four-hour period. There were a couple of days when I worried as the thermometer edged past a somewhat comfortable eighty-five into an uncomfortable near ninety. But thankfully no, it was simply a harbinger of the heat, humidity and mosquitoes to come. We are in the midst of “blackberry winter” with beautiful white blackberry blooms adorning our roadsides bring cool morning temperatures and warm, but not hot, afternoons. Moderate evening temperatures allow for outdoor activities involving a cigar, an adult beverage, a comfortable sweat shirt and the smell of sweet honeysuckle mixing with the aroma of my Dutch Master’s Honey Corona. Ah…Spring!

The local bear paid me his annual spring visit last night, pulling down my fence before making off with two bags of trash. “Pooh Bear” found no honey but seemed to enjoy the empty peanut butter jar…once he got into it. He was not a very tidy diner but at least he left both bags “relatively” close together and intact. Last year his “great trash robbery” was left scattered over an acre. Linda Gail and I have enjoyed watching a small brown snake, variety not color exactly, make his slow, early morning trek up into the tangle mess of Linda’s clematis while waiting for the morning sun to warm the very cockles of his little fork-tongued soul. I’m not too worried about my bird families because even the smallest babies are larger than the snake. Flick, flick goes his tongue. Several mornings ago I watched a doe and two small, spot covered, fawns cautiously follow the stream past my garden. I hope they don’t discover my tender spring plantings. Ah…Spring!

As I sat outside in my camp chair last night, I was treated to a concert of sorts. I had decided to enjoy a second adult beverage and heard the melodic yet lonesome call of a whippoorwill. I heard no answering call and could not help but softly sing “Hear that lonesome whippoorwill, He sounds too blue to fly, the midnight train is whining low, I’m so lonesome I could cry.” Thank you Hank Williams. My moroseness was short lived when the owls began their serenade. They certainly are not lonesome. It won’t be long before their hooting will be joined by the cicadas and their short lived mating chant along with the fireflies and their flashing message, “Here I am, lets skip the light fandango.” Ah…Spring!

Unfortunately, even the Garden of Eden had its serpent. My little piece of heaven does too and I am not speaking about my friendly little brown snake. With spring comes beautiful flowers, green trees, the honeysuckle and my “god awful” allergies! A serpent disguised as postnasal drip…no, disguised as a postnasal flood of biblical proportions. Noah had nothing on me and there are no rainbows to signify the end of the flood. I think I may drown in my own pool of…mucus and wonder why God decided to place our noses upside down over our mouths. I have an equally allergic friend who I converse with several times a week. Our conversations seem to always begin with “My allergies are…” take your pick. I’ve attempted all of the fixes and found I cannot sleep standing up. My allergy tests showed I was allergic to one hundred and forty-four different grasses and weeds, all possibly found in my backyard. Trees, including the dozen or so Beech trees found around the stream behind my house, assorted molds and mildews, and cocklebur. I’ve got them all and I tried all the remedies. Weekly allergy shots for two years to a daily teaspoon of local honey and everything in between including three different allergy prescriptions, all taken at the same time. Maybe a World War One gas mask might work but I fear it would simply fill up and drown me in the end and there is no end in sight until the cold, unwelcomed winds of winter. Ah…Spring…Ahhhhhhh Chooooooooo, sniff, sniff, sniff, cough, cough, cough!

For more of Don Miller’s unique view of life click on http://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM