The Old Man

From the historical novel Long Ride to Paradise

Spring 1934

The old man sat on the top step of the weathered porch and watched the movement of children as they played tag and other games.  His vision had deteriorated, and he squinted attempting to see. The cataracts had thickened, reducing the children to ghostly apparitions.  “Too much time spent in the blazing sun, I reckon.” He could still see their blurry forms and could discern the gayly clad little girls in their summer dresses from the little boys in their shorts and long pants.  “Thank God! My hearing is still good,” He thought

Someone wanted to take a picture with their new-fangled camera.  Something called a Brownie. He sat a bit slumped, his hands resting on his thighs.  A ninety-year-old…today, April 9, 1934. 

His once red hair though full, was now white as the cotton bolls bursting in the fall.  His beard, years ago red and sparse, had thickened like his cataracts. White and long, it spread to the middle of his chest. Tobacco juice from years smoking his cheroots, darkened the whiskers at the sides of his mouth.  

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Marion DeKalb Rodgers-My great, great grandfather

His gaze shifted to the distant horizon.  His once blazing, blue-green eyes had faded but his vision was still sharp…with the images of the past.  He smiled at his thoughts.  Sometimes he couldn’t remember what day it was, but his memories of times now past were as sharp as the old boning knife he once carried.  Again, he smiled, “Old times there are not forgotten.” He spent most of his time gazing back at the past.  Mostly he spent his time with the memory of Lucretia, now dead nearly sixty years.

He had been lucky.  He had loved three times.  Three fine women had warmed his bed and brought him comfort and joy.  Lucretia, Cassandra, and Josephine.  He had loved them with all his heart. The old man had been unlucky too, he had outlived all three along with his friends. 

He cherished the memories of them all, but Lucretia was special.  She had been his first….  He liked to see her in the emerald green ball dress their first night at Madam Shailene’s.  High waisted, it bared her shoulders and dipped low showing her décolletage.  An emerald ribbon held her mother’s cameo and brought attention to her long and slender neck.  He remembered slowly taking her out of the dress, pressing his lips to her neck…”Damn I almost felt a stirring.”

Lucretia Noel? Allen Kell’s great love

Timmy, Tyler James’ youngest sat down beside him.  A boy of six, Allen Kell recognized the youngster’s voice when he asked, “Whatcha’ thinking about Grampy?”  Timmy was John William’s youngest grandchild.  John William was not Allen Kell’s son but his nephew, Brother Arlo, and Stella’s only child and a sack of hell.  Allen Kell had sired no children but had been adopted by John William, Adeline, and his brood of ten children and at last count, fourteen grandchildren.

“Timmy, I was thinking about Grammy Lucretia.  I wish you had the chance to meet her.  She was a special woman.”

“As special as Grammy Josey?”  He asked as if he might be worried about Allen Kell’s answer.

“Oh yes, oh yes she was…and Josephine loved you very much.”

“I miss her…’specially her molasses cookies.”

“I miss her too…and her molasses cookies.”

He missed his friends too.  All were gone.  James, Sean, Arlo and Stella, Alexandre’ and Shailene. Virgil, Eamon….  All had been gone for ages it seemed.  “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” from the book Momma Edwards had taught him to read from.  He had been here too long.  It was time to move on to the great beyond.

All the grandchildren had gathered around his feet, Timmy begged, and the rest agreed, “Tell us a story Grampy.”

Well, maybe it’s not quite time to move on.  The grandchildren agreed.

Excerpt for the newly released Tales of the Drunken Irishman: Long Ride to Paradise. It may be downloaded or purchased at

First image is of Marion DeKalb Rodgers, my great, great grandfather. He came home from the Civil War and lived a life nothing like Allen Kell Edwards but was the motivation for the character nevertheless.

Second image is of a “soiled dove” from Pinterest She is not Lucretia Noel but this is fiction anyway https://www.pinterest.com/pin/262475484508164087/

“If I had known…”

If I had known last March it would be the last time I sat in a restaurant for nearly eight months, I would have ordered dessert.“ Unknown

I don’t know who is responsible for the quote, I just know it wasn’t me. I also know what I didn’t know then.  Despite all of the misinformation floating around, no truer words have been spoken.  When there is a next time, I will order dessert.

I didn’t buy the President’s spiel that COVID-19 would be over in the heat of summer, but I also didn’t buy I would be contemplating a Thanksgiving without friends and family…and then there is Christmas.

None of my aunt’s dressing and butterscotch pies.  None of my brother’s newest culinary creation or a cousin’s broccoli casserole.  None of Bob’s ham or turkey.  No visiting with the girl cousins who are more like sisters. At least I will have my bride’s tomato pies all to myself and will hear no one ask, “What about that election.”

No visit with Ashley, Justin, and the grands.  No tall tales, no hearty laughter, no catching up.  Instead I’ll burn up the phone lines, I guess., and maybe a Cornish hen on the grill. 

No post dinner nap while pretending to watch the Cowboys take it on the chin again.

Next time and until the Lord takes me home, I will always order dessert.

The date in early March eludes me.  I know it was before my brother’s birthday on the thirteenth because we didn’t celebrate it…or mine…or anyone else’s.   Maybe it was late February….

There have been few celebrations over the past seven months. I guess not being one of the two hundred and sixty some odd fatalities is celebration enough.  For some reason, my thought has a “hurray for me and the hell with everyone else” ring that is not intended.

I was at a BBQ joint with my bride on that day in February or March.  A large pulled pork BBQ sandwich with ‘yaller’ sauce, mayonnaise cabbage slaw, and a couple of orders of deeply fried, battered okra sat before me.

All were washed down with a Damn Yankee, Narragansett beer or three.  Maybe fifteen hundred calories…not counting the calories from cleaning up my bride’s plate…so the dessert was declined.  I will never allow that to happen again.  I will always order dessert. Maybe I’ll eat dessert first.

I’ve learned several things about myself as I’ve sat in my self-imposed isolation wishing for BBQ and dessert…wishing for Aunt Joyce’s dressing…wishing the kids were about….wishing for Thanksgiving celebrations.

I’ve learned I really do like being around my wife, otherwise we would have killed each other by now.  I realize the jury is still out from her perspective…and I’ve hidden all of the weapons just to make sure.

After seven months my hair still hasn’t grown long enough to put into a ponytail.   It is more of a ragged mullet. MacGyver would not covet it. Could be due to the absence of hair I began with.  I am going to keep trying.  Maybe I’ll start an “inverted Mohawk” ponytail/mullet movement for hippies in their seventies.

I have learned boredom is no motivation to getting things done. All those jobs that need to be completed, I can’t even get them started.  I just let more things go. ..more things that need to be done.

I haven’t even found new and more interesting ways to stay bored.  How many reruns of NCIS New Orleans or Star Trek The Next Generation can I watch? Is The Hallmark Channel next?

I’ve found rips to the grocery store to be scary, even double or triple masked up…considering the idiots ignoring masking rules along with the directional arrows.   It’s a political statement? Possibly more dangerous than a simultaneous four-way stop or the new traffic circle built next to Wally World in TR. I do have to eat but I’ll never use the traffic circle.

I’ve learned I’m not the hermit I thought I was.  I find myself chatting with frogs, snakes, turtles, ground squirrels, and birds…even the little snail that somehow found it’s way onto my shower curtain.  I don’t think he is listening. I would talk to my bride but then she might involve me in a conversation where she talks and I listen.

When the wildlife is not around, I talk to myself. Unfortunately, with cold weather ahead, the frogs, turtles, and snakes will be self-isolating and I’ve found I don’t make much sense even to myself.  Just ask the snail on the shower curtain…I think I may have talked him to death.

As I contemplate Thanksgiving, if I am fortunate to sit down at an indoor restaurant table again, I will order dessert….maybe two. 

If you are throwing caution to the wind and visiting family and friends this 2020 Thanksgiving, first of all, be careful, wear your mask and social distance. It is not a political statement, it is an intelligence statement.

Secondly, eat that extra bowl of banana puddin’ or German Chocolate cake.  Put an extra dab of cranberry salad on your turkey sandwich and maybe a wedge of dressing.  Enjoy the sweet potato casserole or pumpkin pie. Do it for me but if you have Bourbon pecan cheesecake…don’t tell me, it might break my heart. 

Happy Thanksgiving.

***

Don Miller writes in a variety of genres. He will release his newest historical novel, Long Ride to Paradise, after Thanksgiving, The tale takes place during the historical period known as Reconstruction.

Don’s authors page can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR1iraxbHHzYu2km-B4PsMVtsrBn9_NwN3OCmVKqxkn3Kq9qOpHWGOUhW9w.

The image is of Bourbon Pecan Cheesecake and I am drooling. Recipe at www.tastykitchen.com

Long Ride To Paradise

From The Tales of the Drunken Irishman Saloon: Long Ride to Paradise. Coming in early December, it is the second of the Drunken Irishman Trilogy.

Chapter One

September 1874

The Canal Street Custom House, New Orleans

Allen Kell Edwards had gotten himself into another fine mess.  The politics of the issue smelled like rotten fish.  Neither the Republicans nor the fusion Democrats were on the side of the angels.  There was no truth in politics in 1874.

A warm bed with a warmer body waited for him at home but home was several days’ travel at a saloon named The Drunken Irishman in Trinity, Louisiana.  “Oh, Lucretia, why didn’t you try and stop me?  Instead of stroking your sweet bottom, I’m holed up in the Canal Street Custom House with James Longstreet.” 

Theirs was a diverse group.  Longstreet, the former Confederate general, was the commander of the black militia.  Under his command was James Edwards, Allen Kell’s former slave, now, a member of the New Orleans Metropolitan Police.  They had been charged with defending the lawful Republican governor, William Pitt Kellogg, and his cabinet.  Yes, a fine mess…one he had not asked for.  He had come for a visit, but they had convinced him they needed him. 

What a fine mess!” They, along with Longstreet, the Republican governor and his cabinet, the metropolitan police superintendent and a mixed bag of police and militia were under siege in the Customs House.  

“A siege but at least nobody’s shooting right now.  Everyone seems to be waiting.”  Allen Kell stroked his chin thinking, “At least my quare feeling is quiet.”  Allen Kell seemed to have a sixth sense when it came to trouble, something he called his ‘quare’ feeling.

There had been plenty of shooting earlier in the day.  The battle had raged around Canal Street as Longstreet failed to stop the White League from receiving weapons being unloaded onto the New Orleans docks where they sat.  At his old commander’s request, Allen Kell had stood with the militia as they were attacked…and were routed.  

“I couldn’t lead a starving man to a St. Louis steak”, thought Allen Kell.  

Longstreet had been hit with a spent bullet which had done no damage before being pulled off his horse by members of the White League, some of whom he had probably commanded.   Allen Kell had fought frantically to free his former commander and managed to whisk him away to the custom house.  

The Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police, Sidney Badger was not as lucky.  He had been severely injured and there was talk he might lose his leg.

Allen Kell felt rather than saw the shadow falling across him.  Longstreet had cast a large shadow during the days of the Civil War, especially at Gettysburg and the defense of Petersburg.   “Old Pete” had changed little.  His beard was a bit grayer than at Petersburg, and with better vittles, his form had filled out.  

The fact he was working for the Republicans and was a friend of Sam Grant had made him a controversial figure in the nine years following the war.  Allen Kell had heard former Confederates calling Longstreet a scalawag…Allen guessed his present predicament made him one too.

“Sergeant Edwards, it appears you have failed to save my bacon once again,” Longstreet’s eyes twinkled as he said it.

Allen Kell thought he should stand and struggled through his tiredness to find his feet.

“Stay down boy, you don’t need to stand.”

Allen Kell settled and forced a smile, “General, I agree beings we’re holed up here with the entire Republican government,” surrounded, as they were, by the Louisiana State White Militia, waiting on the Federals to show up.  

“Sir, I’m a bit tired of fightin’ on the wrong side of history.”

“Son, you got me here and I’d say we’ll have to die to be on the right side of history.  Old Sam’ll send troops soon enough and these hoodlums ain’t nothing more than a white militia wanting to overthrow the rule of law.  Kellogg has wired Grant, appraising him of the situation.”

Life had not calmed after Allen Kell had returned home.  Political and racial strife erupted immediately as the state and parish governments moved to limit the rights of the newly freed slaves and return to pre-Civil War normalcy. 

Democrats, white and mostly Confederate veterans, clashed with Republicans, mostly black or if white, Northern carpetbaggers or Southern scalawags.  Violence seemed to crescendo before each election.  It had begun back in 1866 with a riot in New Orleans and spilled northward to include the Colfax riot last year.  Colfax was spitting distance from Allen Kell’s home, Edwards Crossroads and Trinity City.

“Riot?  James called it a massacre”, thought Allen Kell.  Fifty colored men, who surrendered to the White League, had been executed and thrown into the Red River according to James. Another hundred had been killed in the riot itself.  His friends, Alexandré and Shailene Dupreé֒ had been smart to leave for Barbados.  He wondered how they were faring under British control.

“General, how’s Badger?”  The Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police, Algernon Sidney Badger had been nearly crushed when his dead horse fell on him.

“Touch and go but I believe Superintendent Badger will recover from his physical wounds if he can recover from the shock of losing his leg…I’m not sure either of us will recover our good names.  Well, I will leave you to your ruminations.  I thank you for your efforts.”

“Wait, General.” Allen Kell stood, “General, I’d like to shake your hand if I might.  Our war was a bloody waste but if I had to serve, I’m glad I had a chance to serve under you.”  Longstreet nodded his thanks, shook Allen Kell’s hand, and saluted him.  Smartly Allen Kell returned it.   Watching Longstreet march off, it would be the last time he would speak with “Old Pete.”

When published, Long Ride to Paradise, along with Don Miller’s other books will be available at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR09QzUebNCSmqTEoOnCRjpbQ4FuMoyAcB3cBnUPsmVqQIdAV3GlPMeqhw4

Fair Winds

The warm and freshening breeze blowing across the lake brought memories flowing as swiftly as the breeze itself. Most were as warm as the wind driving them. The ones that weren’t were forced away by the bright sunshine.

According to the sign the trail we walk is 1.25 miles. I don’t believe the distance is accurate, but the lake it surrounds is much too small for me to be thinking about sailing.  Yet I was.

Ordinarily my bride would have had me talking or listening to her prattles, pointing out strangely shaped mushrooms or having me wait impatiently as she took pictures of the waterfall she has taken pictures of for the past three hundred and sixty-five days. Instead, she was quiet, as deeply into her own thoughts as I was in mine.  I did not know her thoughts, scary I’ll admit, but I knew mine. 

As I watched the wind driven ripples race across the lake, I thought of a twenty-two-foot sloop with a Bermuda rig from a time far, far distant. Mostly I thought of the people who crewed the boat…some gone but not forgotten.

The warm for November breeze stiffened in my face as I thought, “This would be a great day to be sailing,”  or for partying with friends while sailing.

In my mind’s eye I saw the white sailboat on a close haul, mainsail and jib pulled in tight, the sails singing as the wind’s pressure heeled the boat, the gunnels dipping perilously toward the water. I see us scurrying to the high side to keep from being capsized.  The high side of life?

Battling the tiller for control of the rudder as the speed and water pressure builds. Could this be a metaphor for life…my life? Where did my runaway thoughts come from and why did I quit sailing?

The little boat, narrow of beam with a swing keel, was quick and nimble with her racing rigged main and jib.  I’m surprised I remember any nautical terms; it has been nearly forty years since I gripped the tiller with an unsteady hand.

“Sailing takes me away to where I’ve always heard it could be.  Just a dream and the wind to carry me, and soon I will be free.”  Damn, Christopher Cross is playing in my head…can “Southern Cross” by Crosby, Stills, and Nash without Young be far behind.  “So we cheated and we lied and we tested, and we never failed to fail it was the easiest thing to do. You will survive being bested, somebody fine will come along make me forget about loving you…
And the southern cross.”

It was in the late Seventies when I was invited to my first of many sailing weekends.  “Bring a date, spend the weekend.  You’ll love it.”  I did. Bill, Koon, Bobbi, Sybil, myself and a date.  There were a few others who sailed in and out on occasion.

Six of us on a small sailboat on a large inland lake in South Carolina.  Coolers filled with adult beverages or the mixers for a liquor drink.  The alcohol loosened our tongues and greased our laughter. Bill, our captain, always managed to sail us back to our home port, sometimes in the dead of night.

Too much liquor, well grilled steaks, great friends sitting around a wood fire, and a plus one…whomever she might have been at the time, there were not that many. ..or there were too many. Laughter was abundant. Good times. 

Any good time you survive should qualify as a great time.  Great times.  Somehow, we survived our youthful foolishness.  I remember nothing but clear, bright sunshine and fair winds…am I dreaming? No, I don’t think so.

Taking the tiller for the first time, I might well have been at the wheel of the Queen Anne’s Revenge awaiting Blackbeard’s next order.  “Arrr, let them eat steel maties”…or have another mixed drink.

Manning the tiller may be a metaphor for my life.  Sometimes it is hard to stay on course. Life, like tacking against the wind, tends to be made in zigs and zags.  Some zigs are short, some zags exceptionally long…or seem that way. Coming about into the wind can have painful outcomes if you aren’t paying attention.

For some reason my sailing days came to an end.  The storms of depression left me dead in the water. It was my actions I’m sure. There were bad times, dark times.  Depressed times. 

Times improved with understanding and a little wisp of a girl who calmed the winds and seas…except when our own hurricanes blew up.  Our foundation must have been built upon the rock of understanding…we are still here and still together. Our breezes are mostly warm and caressing like today but for some reason I never got back to sailing.

I purged those ill winds from my mind to keep from being driven crazy upon the rocks of life.  I keep them locked tightly away until a fresh, warm breeze hits me in the face allowing only the good memories to flow. 

In my depression I cut myself off from people who didn’t deserve to be cut off.  That was a failure on my part…I demasted myself and lost my rudder to boot. Like a solitary sailor, I battled my storm tossed seas alone…until my North Star became my guide.

I choose to remember the fair winds.  A bow cleaving the water. Great sailing in bright sunshine.  Sybil sitting on the bow, her legs straddling the bowsprit mocking a figurehead on an ancient sailing ship.  Koon’s big laugh and smile with a liquor drink in her hand.  “Now let me tell you one thing….” Blowing off steam in the sun and the wind on a small sailboat.  Sharing the joy and laughter with friends.

Sybil and Koon are silent now as is one of my plus ones.  Silent in the physical world.  Quite alive in the memories on a close haul through my mind.

I couldn’t help but smile as the warm breeze caressed the lake’s shoreline and my face. I miss them but see them sailing across the firmament at dusk. A small sailboat sailing close to the solar winds, white sails glowing red in the sunset.

Fair winds and following seas my friends.  May warm breezes caress you. You are missed.

Sailing by Christopher Cross

The image is from https://www.yacht-rent.com/talking-the-talk-basic-nautical-terms

Don Miller’s author’s page https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR3BYeO7eRpFl647KXrqSJD31DxD_NP-u4TMGa1hRS_EpP7vZ-4xQ06JjvM

Venus Rising, Cynicism in Retrograde

Idealism according to the Oxford Online Dictionary is “the practice of forming or pursuing ideals, especially unrealistically” as in  “the idealism of youth” who we all know are ALL unrealistic.  Youthful Don Quixotes, chasing their unrealistic, idealistic, and impractical windmills…oh, how I love and miss thee.

The online dictionary supplied synonyms, one which caught my eye. Romanticism, “a movement in the arts and literature that originated in the late eighteenth century, emphasizing inspiration, subjectivity, and the primacy of the individual.”

I began thinking about idealism and from Romanticism, subjectivity, “the quality of being based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions”. I thought as I waited to hear the outcome of our election.  I have been thinking about idealism and subjectivity for the past four days as I write this…and maybe will be thinking about it for a while longer. 

My musings began as I watched Venus rise the morning after the election…Venus the Morning Star…“morning not mourning” I thought. Venus was the brightest light in the morning sky and was showing quite large to my eye…the Morning Star heralding a new day.

Like Venus, I am an early riser who, on good weather days, goes out and sits in his chair, lights a cigar, and meditates for a few minutes  while enjoying a cup of Folgers. “The best part of waking up is…” at my age, the best part of waking up is waking up.

I do not know which I noticed first, Venus or the cynicism oozing through my thoughts…I was depressed to boot, my thoughts scrambled like the broken kaleidoscope I have written about previously. 

Instead of brooding, I focused on Venus. The appearance of that heavenly body along with my meditations gave me a bit of hopefulness, based on nothing more than my “personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.” 

It is another day and Venus is just where it was yesterday, give or take a few minutes, a few degrees above or below its former position on the horizon.  The gas shrouded planet is where it was a thousand years ago, cosmological changes not withstanding.  I imagined The Morning Star might be near by in another thousand years.  My hopefulness grew.

It dawned upon me I might not be as jaded as I thought.  Mentally at least, I’m still the young idealist that left my teenage years for the adult world in the late Sixties and early Seventies.  I may be one of the nation’s older teenagers…an old hippie still waiting for the “dawning of the Age of Aquarius.”

I pondered over my idealism and subjectivity. I am dominated by my feelings.  Not very objective. Do not confuse me with the facts so to speak.  I either “feel” someone is right or “feel” something is wrong or if uncertain, according to my grandmother’s advice, assume it is wrong until proven otherwise. 

I have an open mind, I can be convinced of the error of my ways, but again, all things being equal, with no solid facts available, I go with my gut, my feelings.  If it feels wrong, it is wrong. I even took a personality tests that proved that very fact.

So…I have nothing solid to base my hopefulness upon other than my idealism and my subjectivity but, “Its going to be alright.”  There are more good people than bad, and I am hopeful. There are more forward thinkers than backward non-thinkers regardless of political affiliation, regardless of what state you reside in, regardless of religious affiliation.

I was hopeful as my best friend and I began our weekly morning walk at 6:45 on Friday. Venus had disappeared into the sunrise as we talked of peace, elections, religion and a plethora of other problems we could not solve. Maybe we walk too fast…or talk too slowly. We are Southerners.

We are polar opposites in our outlook on life. He the lifelong Republican, I the left leaning Independent who voted Democrat this cycle. He’s the life long Southern Baptist, I the…I’m no longer sure. I am hopeful because we have found common ground for over forty years and friendship upstages political or religious affiliation.

I am hopeful because of the smiling young lady who serves us coffee at our afterwalk haunt, The Tree House Cafe. The haunt is an eclectic and welcoming little hole in the wall and Lindi’s eight a. m. smile and laugh are brighter than the colorful tattoos peeking from below the sleeves of her sweat shirt. A bright and hopeful youth with oodles of energy early on a Friday morning…not mourning.

There are a group of high school students sitting around a large table, their laptops open and at the ready. I am told by Kristen, one of the owners, they are a study group from the local high school. Kristen is bright, smiling, and welcoming as always. An art teacher and artist, my guess is we share a bit of the same idealism.

The retired teacher in me wanted to admonish the students for not wearing facemasks but instead kept my mouth shut. The same old teacher watched their work from afar, their flurries of activity surrounding burst of laughter bringing a smile to my face. I’m hopeful despite the lack of masks and amazed at their early morning energy. I miss my days of warping the minds of our youth.

Our hope…our salvation is our youth, young people like Lindi, the study group, and young folk like them.

Despite my idealism it is time for an aging “dudeist” like myself to step aside and turn the world over to the young. We baby boomers had our time and royally screwed things up in my mind…my “personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.”  We need to see if the young can do a better job. We know longer live in the world of our youth…the new world doesn’t run the same way.

I’m hopeful the “rising” generation will be our “Venus Rising.” I am hopeful they will continue to pursue their unrealistic ideals and put wings to their dreams. I am hopeful they will ignore all of us who continue to try and put them in a box not of their choosing. I hope cynicism continues in retrograde even if it is just my own.

As I finished these musings I walked outside again. Venus was obscured by the predawn cloud cover and my hopefulness was tempered but only for a moment. The cloud passed and Venus reappeared heralding a bright new morning, allowing me to be hopeful again.

(For a definition of Dudeism, see below)

***

Don Miller’s author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR23wUPDyCrxyhUiWI0EHKFTmJjLwrAAXOC4Z5Y9Foz95T-JdxM4CkFZFB0

Because I couldn’t find a picture of the planet that I liked I chose SANDRO BOTTICELLI’S THE BIRTH OF VENUS, C. 1486…a picture of a painting I do like.

“Dudeism” is a religion, philosophy, or lifestyle inspired by “The Dude”, the protagonist of the Coen Brothers’ 1998 film The Big Lebowski. Dudeism advocates and encourages the practice of “going with the flow”, “being cool headed”, and “taking it easy” in the face of life’s difficulties, believing that this is the only way to live in harmony with our inner nature and the challenges of interacting with other people. I am a fully ordained Dudeist Priest.

Clearing Off Showers

We had a tropical storm roar through the area…odd for the foothills of the Blue Ridge.  We are more likely to experience late evening thunderstorms…in July and August, not the weekend of Halloween.  The weekend of Halloween we are normally dreading the impending snow apocalypse, the teacup full of snow we receive in late January or February. 

I fear tropical storms roaring through our area may become more frequent if we continue to deny and do nothing about global climate change…this isn’t about global warming unless we are talking about temperature increases involving my bride when she is mad.  She can cause the temperature in a room to soar like the afternoons in August…sometimes like the center of a thermonuclear detonation.

When I stepped out to enjoy my predawn cigar and meditation before the rains, I noticed the sticky feel, the oppressive humidity.  The temperature hit me in the face and reminded me of heat radiated from a pot bellied stove turning pink from the fire inside.  There was a freshening breeze that grew in intensity, violently twisting the hemlocks, poplars, and walnuts.   While I worried as the electric power failed, I thought about “clearing off showers” that had nothing to do with the weather. 

The storm front blew through leaving a deep blue sky above and a carpet of ;eaves. limbs and twigs below.  The winds still raged as I spent the afternoon glancing at the sky as I removed litter from underfoot.  It became a metaphor for life, at least my life, including the litter I still must deal with. 

The morning after, 4:30 in the A. M., plenty of litter remains but the nearly full moon is sharp and bright, back lighting a sky with thousands of visible stars.  As the sun made its appearance, so did a deep blue, cloudless sky as if the storm had scrubbed the air clean…a clearing off shower as I heard the old folks say…now I’m one of the old folks.

My marriage is similar…the basis for my metaphor.  My bride and I tend to tiptoe around each other, avoiding contention as best we can until the air we breathe becomes filled with the dirt and grit of annoyances and vexations.  Choking us…the smog and ash of past resentments and displeasure.  The muck that congests us and our love for each other.

There will be an explosion that jars us like a nearby lightning strike, the thunderclap loud and rumbling, the vibrations felt deeply in our hearts and soul.  There maybe a heavy rain before storm fully passes.  Once the clouds abate, the sun comes out, the air is clean and crisp.  Our love is once again clean and shiny like a freshly cleaned mirror…a mirror to our souls. 

Clearing off showers…necessary for the flowers and trees to grow.  Necessary for love to grow…for love to bloom.  

***

While Don Miller doesn’t normally wax poetic his author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR3Wjns8dEtr4Q8oisuqEKWNHeNuNUhqwkPoakQ2W1ydhRHJgmGEMPQMxQk

The image is from http://www.musicforbodyandspirit.com/relaxing-music-and-soft-rain-sleep-music-music-for-studying/