This story popped up this morning in my ‘Memories’ on Facebook. I’ve tried to find Kang again so I could invite her to have a cup of coffee and I could hear more of her story. Maybe some day we’ll meet again.
Written 5 years ago when I was at a low point in my life:
I woke up this morning feeling worthless. That's the price you pay at times when you're a recluse such as I am and there's no one around to offer encouragement. One becomes acclimated to loneliness in the same way one becom
There was a coyote in my yard this morning. It was sniffing the air and searching for breakfast in the pre-dawn light. I’ve never before seen a coyote so close to my house, but I think I’ll be seeing more of them soon: I’ve changed my diet to include rotisserie chicken from Walmart. Lunch or dinner might be half a chicken, a handful of Triscuits, and a sliced apple. Easy and cheap, but healthy.
I always share my leftovers with the raccoons. I take the chicken bones outside to the cement si
Last night I woke up around 2:00 AM to the sound of something scratching behind my bedroom wall. I thought it might be a mouse, but the noise was much louder than the scratching noises that the mice usually make.
I turned on the bedside lamp, and suddenly there was a large bat flying in circles right above my head.
I mentally reviewed my Emergency Bat Protocols, then jumped out of bed, grabbed my pillow, and ran across the hall to the other bedroom to open the big window that doesn’t
I had my 2nd Covid vaccine shot today. It went well, and I made an interesting observation: when the pharm tech did the inoculation, I barely felt the needle. But four weeks ago, when I got my first inoculation, a different pharm tech practically shoved that needle into my right clavicle. Conclusion: when it comes to inoculations, some pharm techs are more aggressive than others.
Just before leaving, I happened to glance at my paperwork and notice they’d misspelled the name of the street I
I got my first Covid vaccine shot today at the Hy-Vee pharmacy. They’re very efficient, and they answered all of my questions. Afterwards, I rushed over to Lake Anita for a long, strenuous walk to get my heart pumping to evenly distribute the tracking chips. I wouldn’t want a nanochip pileup in my Parietal Lobe. (JK)
It was a beautiful day for a walk: Windy, 75 degrees, partly cloudy. I took a detour onto the Junior Karns Trail for a different assortment of photos.
Ever since I retired last August, my brain seems to be operating in neutral. Today I committed two very serious faux pas’ while grocery shopping.
I went to the local market to stock up on steaks and pork chops at their awesome meat counter. The two employees were very friendly, and wished me a nice day as I left. I noticed that their black masks matched their black aprons. Very sharp, very professional.
Then I approached the deli counter in hopes of scoring two pounds of their delicio
This popped up in my Facebook “Memories” this morning. I posted it 5 years ago, but the actual “memory” is from 50 years ago.
I once knew a man who slapped Adolph Hitler.
I met him back in the 1960s, during my high school years when I stayed a few weekends at the Catholic monastery in Colfax, Iowa, doing chores and spending time with Father Sean and the Brothers.
Brother Stanislaus was old and small and thin, and he was very quiet, almost invisible. He
I had a funny experience a few days before Christmas. It was one of those experiences that I think I’ll always remember, but it’s safer to write it down now rather than trust my memory. I sometimes don’t even remember what I had for lunch: Ham sandwich? Salami sandwich? Sardines & crackers?
Well, my old high school friend Luke who lives in Nebraska texted that he’d be driving to Des Moines to deliver Christmas presents, and asked if I wanted to meet him for lunch at the Wagon Wheel Rest
I have to remind myself of this often. It’s an admonition that crosses all political boundaries, as well as a reminder that, regardless of who’s in power, our peace and tranquillity come from God. Bringing our concerns to Him instead of social media (or the dinner table) leads to peace rather than division. May God bless America and our new President, Joseph Biden.
“First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made in behalf of all people, for kings a
I had an epiphany while scanning the Internet on January 6. I saw our elected officials cowering in fear as protestors stormed the venerable halls of the Capital Building. I thought to myself, “Well, politicians, maybe now you understand the fear felt by the citizens of Minneapolis, Kenosha, Portland, and Seattle as violent arsonists burned down the neighborhoods where people work and buy their groceries and get their hair styled. We commoners watched it burn as you politicians said things like
Cold day for a walk, but I just had to get outdoors to ward off my cabin fever. 25 degrees, cloudy skies, light winds blowing across the partially-frozen lake.
I couldn’t believe how busy the beavers have been! They left a fifty-foot trail of downed trees that stretched to the river. The raccoons have been busy too: they climb into the garbage dumpster in the parking lot and toss out pizza cartons and soft drink cups left behind by the RV campers.
I have a friend named Jesus who immi
I just found a snake in my basement. I’d gone downstairs to the basement to turn off the ceiling fan, when I heard a rattling sound coming from my water heater. The water heater is under the stairs, in a small area without much light, so I got up close to the heater and peered into the darkness to see if one of the pipes coming out of the top had sprung a leak. It was too dark to see much, so I got a flashlight from the kitchen upstairs, and went back down to the basement. I turned on the flashl
I drove to the Old Stone Arch Trail this afternoon for a long walk and some IPhone photos. Much cooler weather than my walk earlier this week: 72 degrees vs. 92 degrees. It was like a walk in the park. Or the trail.
I began thinking about a couple of conversations I’ve had recently that I thought were unusual enough to write down for safekeeping. One happened in Walmart, back in the Electronics Dept. where I always check the $5 DVD bin for new movies. Up until recently, the DVDs were throw
Today I started to feel like a retired person, though I’m technically not retired until August 31st. No sense waitin’ til it’s official!
I was up at 6:00 AM, ran downstairs (I’m not sure if it was my bones creaking or the stairs), started the coffeemaker, tossed some birdseed on the ground outside, then sat down in my bentwood rocking chair and waited by an open window for the critters to show up for breakfast. I shot a squirrel (with my camera) and that’s about it. The other critters didn’
Lots of excitement around the lake today. I got a good photo of a mama turtle digging a hole in the ground to lay her eggs, and then I almost walked right into a skunk. When the skunk saw me, it went on high alert and raised its tail. I made an abrupt u-turn and let him carry on with his grub-hunting.
I startled a flock of vultures out of the trees as I quietly passed underneath them. I counted fifteen vultures, all circling above me, watching me like a little kid opening the oven door to s
I had my annual physical today. This may sound crazy, but I think of my health statistics in the same way that athletes think of their sports statistics: I try to show improvement in each category. Today was my best yet:
My weight was down 5 lbs. from last year.
Blood Pressure: 122/82 (lower than last year).
Triglycerides: This year: 185. Last year: Over 300!
Cholesterol levels: within the healthy range.
In my opinion, I deserve at least a Bronze medal.
And, I finally got t
I don’t know why, but nowadays, when I go for a walk, I feel an obligation to post photos on Facebook of the little distractions that catch my eye as I’m walking. I’ll be the first to admit that my photos aren’t Pulitzer Prize-worthy, especially using my antiquated iPhone 6s, but I normally walk for two hours and I think that having my good camera swinging back and forth around my neck would soon become an annoyance.
And yet, I feel badly when I encounter a wonderful photo op and I’m standi
Part 7: Revelation
We ate like kings in Vietnam. Mai’s mother and sisters cooked homemade meals outdoors over a wood fire beside a low, L-shaped wall that served as the kitchen and protected the food from wind and dust. After the daily early-morning trip to the farmer’s market to buy fresh produce and freshly-butchered meat, the food was prepared and put into large pots where it simmered for hours over the flames, carefully watched from midmorning until late afternoon.
Most of the
Vietnam Part 6: Emperor Gia Long and Napoleon Bonaparte
On our second morning after arriving at the family home, we went to the local Police station to officially present our paperwork. Mai handed our documents to a uniformed officer. He looked them over, and began questioning Mai in a not-too-friendly tone of voice. Then, to my dismay, Mai began arguing with him.
Barbara and I exchanged glances. We’d both known Mai for quite some time, and we knew she wasn’t one to back down from a f
Part 5: A Parade
I survived. I spoke quietly to the dogs, and they let me pass by unharmed. It wasn’t until later that I realized they may have stationed themselves by that particular door on purpose, to guard the family home against critters looking for a new den.
The following morning, we walked to the bottom of the hill where our driver was waiting for us. He drove us into town to what must have been a favorite breakfast place for the family: a tiny storefront cafe on a narrow, bus
Vietnam Part 4: A Night to Remember
Before the Communist invasion of South Vietnam in 1975, Mai’s family was affluent by Vietnamese standards, even having a car and a driver to escort them around the small city of Hue. After serving in the Vietnamese Army for several years, Mr. Nguyen became an entrepreneur, eventually owning three successful grocery stores. Being a loving but strict father, he taught his military martial arts skills to his children from the time they were toddlers. All of
Part 3: Arrival
Hue, the one-time Imperial City located in the center of the ’ox-bow’ country of Vietnam, is full of history. Established as the capital of Vietnam by the Nguyen Dynasty in the early 17th century, Hue remained the seat of the Imperial Palace until 1945 when political divisions led to Hanoi becoming the capital of North Vietnam, followed a few years later by Saigon becoming the capital of South Vietnam.
We arrived in Hue after sunset, around 8:30 at night. Mai’s pa
Part 2: The Road to Hue
Mai’s family lived in Hue, the former Imperial City of Vietnam 600 miles north of Ho Chi Minh City. Mai had made it clear that she wouldn't step foot on Vietnam Airlines, the country's flagship airline that consisted mostly of Russian-built Tupolev Tu-134s and French-built Airbuses. I don't know if the airline's safety reputation was as bad as the rumors said it was, but considering that the Russian airline, Aeroflot, once had the worst safety record in the world,
I wrote this for my Facebook friends about two years ago. It’s very long, so I’ve divided it into seven chapters that I’ll spread out over seven days. With so many people isolating during the C-19 event, I thought it might relieve some of the boredom. (Hopefully it doesn’t add to your boredom!)
I’ve changed names and descriptions of some people to protect their identities.
Vietnam, 1993 - Part 1
A couple of Sundays ago I went with my sister’s fa
When I was very young, I was fascinated by the strange, archaic cultures depicted in National Geographic magazine. Wow. Halfway around the world there were primitive people living in the jungle! and Amazon tribes living in longhouses alongside that great, majestic river! One photo in particular has stayed with me over the years: a proud tribal warrior with a painted face, his teeth carved like shark’s teeth, looking fierce and exotic.
Halfway through my tooth procedure the