Friday, June 23, 2017

"Not Specified" In Oregon

It was nice to have my opinion of the state of Oregon being the repository of those among us deemed too weird for California affirmed once again.  Yes, that magic land where soccer is actually considered a watchable sport, beavers talk and commies get elected has become the first state in the U.S. to allow its citizens to mark their gender as "not specified" on applications for driver's licenses, learner's permits and identity cards.  Wow!  Who knew that this was a problem?  Considering that linear thought leaves your cranium once you cross the state line I guess I shouldn't be surprised.
Instead of an M or F, an X is now a legal designation for those too confused to chose a bathroom or what to wear every morning.  It's called a "non-binary" gender identification, thank you very much, and now our problems are over.

Look, if pressed, I would happily put an X in the "don't give a rat's ass" box on this ruling by a Multnomah County judge but let's do a quick check on the issue's rank in the parade of major problems confronting our republic.  YEP, dead last, right after "make mean people stop being mean". In a time of terrorism, deficit spending, incivility, lousy nutrition,  a woefully dysfunctional education system and a society coarsened to the point of near primitive tribalism the denizens of the sideshow that is Oregon are pleased as punch to be implementing this exciting change of law.  Whoop dee damn do!  Now, if you live in the "Beaver State" you're free to act like all the sled dog drivers in the enlightened Canadian province of Ontario (yeah, they do the X thing too) and put yourself down as "non-binary" in the junk department.

Since they're being creative, how about adding one more category.   If you really can't decide if you are a boy or a girl, I suggest "Q" for quatrasexual.  You know that one, "anything anytime with anybody for a quarter."  That should give ambivalent Oregonians plenty of options in their oh so difficult quest to figure out whether to sit or stand.  It's all so confusing.
"Yeah, put me down for that Q thing."

Friday, June 16, 2017

Buy Ya Books And Buy Ya Books....

"Act like you mean it!"
"You did a half way job!"
"Don't take a lazy man's load!"
"Buy ya books and buy ya books and STILL you don't remember."

I heard those admonitions from my dad throughout the years I remained under his roof.  Did I listen?  Of course not.  I had to learn everything from experience or "the hard way" as was often his admonition. Truth is I learned almost NOTHING from experience and have remained a semi dunce  for most of my life.  Fortunately for me there was a future in broadcasting, a natural destination for those of us who prefer to hang at the corner of Lazy and Stupid.  Dad's was a thankless job.  He raised a couple of goofball sons who resented nearly all of his advice for, no doubt, the same reasons that he probably gave little heed to the guidance of his own father.  It's testosterone poisoning.   Young men are so completely full of themselves they become their own worst enemy; that's why good fathers were invented.  Lucky lads have a dad with grit and manners to prevent their spawn from going off course and into the ditch of life.  It's love designed to save a son from the extensive pummeling that the world is waiting to administer.  (see ass kicking)

Like most of the Greatest Generation, my dad came home from "the big war" ready for some peace and a slice of the American dream.  He and his tribe were exhausted by the cosmic hand they had been dealt by the Depression and World War II and naturally wanted their sons and daughters to have the peaceful and happy lives that they themselves had thus far been denied.  Naturally we Boomers didn't appreciate any of this sacrifice.  Nope, we, for the most part, thought them incredibly un-hip and square.  Rules?  We couldn't live by their rules!

What's that old saying?  "Too soon old, too late smart?"  I'm sure that if you look it up there is a picture of me and my brother right next to the definition.  Neither of us appreciated the tough love meted out by the old man until, well, after he was gone.  He died when we were both well into adulthood and, though it was never openly acknowledged, both of us had the impression that in his final days our dad was fairly well satisfied with how we turned out.  We weren't in prison and we weren't hitting him up for money.

Tomorrow would be dad's 99th birthday.  (It was always convenient that his birthday fell right next to Father's Day as it meant only one card and gift.)  He lasted through most his 76th year which, frankly, seemed a whole lot more an accomplishment in 1995 than it does in 2017 as I knock on the door of 70.   Naturally I wish he were still around to sincerely thank him for his good advice and guidance; also, for not killing me when probably nine out of ten juries would have acquitted him if he had.  He was a good man and an excellent father.

Though we never said things like "I love you" I often think about the final words my father said to me.  My wife and I were leaving my parents home in Illinois heading for the airport in St. Louis and a return to our San Diego home when dad, who was suffering from dementia at the time, walked over to the car to apologize for not recognizing me on several occasions during our stay.  Through the haze of Alzheimer's he said, "Sorry I didn't know who you were.  You looked just like a man."  I told him that it was okay and not to worry about it.  A simple, "I love you too dad" would have been the better and more honest reply.  To "be a man" was always the highest goal he set for his boys.  I'd like to think that with this farewell he was telling me that I had finally gotten there.  It sure felt like the best thing he ever said to me.   Years later I recall his words when I am tempted by my natural inclination to default to the mode of immature and irresponsible.  Being a dad is easy but being a good one is a job for a man, one like he was.  I hope that somewhere he knows that.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Please Sir, May I Have Some More?

Stick 'em up Copper!

Thug squirrels have taken over the park near my home.
The little hoodlums are in firm control of the northwest corner of the beautiful city park that I navigate whenever I walk to restaurants, coffee shops, the post office or the marina where I keep my boat.  These little clowns are worse than the Gambino family when it comes to demanding payoffs.  At first I was able to secure safe passage by merely piecing off the little bastards with bulk shell peanuts   purchased reasonably at Costco but now it takes an offering of quality shelled walnuts or almonds to insure safe passage through Squirrelville.

My wife had often told me that squirrels were among the smartest of all animals and I'm beginning to believe she was on to something.  They obviously recognize me on sight and have rightly deduced that I am an easy touch.  The minute my foot hits the sidewalk near their tree hideout they form a line as they rock back and forth on their haunches awaiting my patronage.  I must time each trip carefully to insure that the first recipients of my largess aren't finished with my tribute tidbits by the time I reach the final furry holdup artist.  It's a game of inches that sometimes finds me suddenly sprinting for the safety of the parking lot on the far side of the park.

All things considered these four-legged criminals are kind of fun to watch and are certainly more low maintenance than a dog or a cat.  Perhaps I'll just refer to them as my pets and congratulate myself on freedom from vet bills, fancy pet foods and the idea of having to share my bed with something that might have fleas.  They also have no "accidents" on the carpet.  I wonder how they feel about cashews and pistachios on their old pal Mr. Copper?
A trip to Costco anyone?
"Paulie Walnuts" 


Friday, June 2, 2017

A Grandson Learns About WW II

I have been on the road.  It is all part of my master plan not to hit the floor and sometimes it even works.

Last week was spent in New Orleans with grandson Dan and his parents.  Not only was the city looking better that it has in quite some time, the oysters, gumbo and other Bayou yummies were there to remind me of why I have loved visiting NOLA for years.  Of course the new number one attraction in the Crescent City is the National World War II Museum and its magnificent campus on Magazine street in the warehouse district.  I have been a member of the museum's Patriots Circle for years and love to show it off whenever the chance presents itself.  At age 7,  I thought it was a good time for Dan to learn at least a little about the sacrifice of his great grandparent's generation and why it's important.  In that respect the trip was an amazing success.  He spent the better part of three days learning about America's role in defeating Hitler and the Empire of Japan and, more importantly, why it was necessary to save the world.  The museum is a national treasure that, if not already, should be on your bucket list.  You'll be hooked from the Steven Spielberg/ Tom Hanks produced movie, "Beyond All Boundaries", right up to your trip through the Road to Tokyo pavilion.   Treat yourself to a look at: 

Dan plane spotting in New Orleans

Captain Dan on the bridge of an aircraft carrier mock up.

Dan and his pal FDR.

A picture for posterity.  Jackson's statue is coming down.

Beignets and beads in The Big Easy, always a necessity.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Springtime Delayed

Walt at his "job".
"Two pike, a bass and a couple of kokanee," replies Walt Maurice the old guy who fishes nearly every day off the pier at the seaplane base near my home.  Part of my daily walk includes a swing by Walt's usual spot just to check on how they're biting and his total so far.  I have no idea how old Walt is (probably younger than he looks) but he tells me that fishing is "his job" and he seldom misses a day.  He is a little more stooped this year and I notice there is now a gap where his front teeth used to be, no doubt his perpetual pipe smoking is the culprit.  He asks me about my wife and I give him the sad news.  He liked her.  Everyone did.  I envy his sense of purpose and resolve.  Gotta get some of that.

After what most locals call "the worst winter in thirty years", it is good to see the sun and feel some warmth for a change.  Spring, at least so far, has been cloudy, rainy and cool.  The leaves are just now filling the trees and my nose and eyes tell me that the pollen count is rising.  I guess it's fitting that a year so personally dark has been reflected in the weather.  A few sunny days and a bunch of chores   are good medicine.  Missing a wife of 48 years will take more than a little getting used to.  I still think that she is just away and due to return tomorrow or the next day  It's impossible yet to grasp the enormity of her absence.  I attempt to clean out closets and drawers but quit after feeble efforts.  Later, I think.  Maybe the next time the kids visit?  This is all new and I don't like it.

Walking, biking, boating, visiting with old friends on the phone and new ones made here in this new place on a beautiful lake in the north of Idaho is good but I often feel as if I'm merely going through the motions.  Time.  It will take time.  Everyone says so.  

Meanwhile I embrace a late Spring and hope that some warmth on my face and the promise of new life will help me make sense of it all or, at least, as much sense as I can handle.  The late Ted Geisel's brilliant observation echoes in my head, "don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."  I know he's right but am not able to buy in as yet.  Time.  I need time.

"And her heart burst like the stars do in the end, and she fell to her knees.  But the whole world looked to her in awe.  She lit the whole universe with her fire for a moment.  In the end she was as beautiful as that starburst falling from the sky and her heart didn't ache anymore." --Akshay Vasee

Friday, April 21, 2017

She's Gone...

Linda Copper
April 13, 1948--April 17, 2017

Beautiful inside and out, a great wife, wonderful mother, grandmother and a friend to be counted on.  She never knew a stranger.