Just a hint of fall color

The other day I mentioned the blasts of orange and red on the otherwise still-mostly-green trees in our little neighborhood not far from the waters of Green Bay, but I neglected to show you. Autumn is a pretty time of year.

Actually, all four seasons have their beauty, but you don’t need me to tell you that. Sometimes the job of the writer is to point out the obvious.

It is well past my bedtime, but I have not taken any time to write a blog post today, so this is obviously one of those filler posts to maintain the daily streak. When you have posted something every day for 1,152 days, you’ll probably throw up a lame post or two yourself.

Make it an amazing day — After all, Sept. 26, 2023, will only happen once.

Along came a Spider-Man

I had Friday night dinner with Son of Red and his beautiful bride. At one point I admired the 2-year-old grandson’s Spider-Man suit. (Actually the 10-year-old grandson is the real Spider-Man fan in their family.)

I remembered that when I was 10 years old, almost nobody in the world knew who Spider-Man is. But I did. Three months after my 10th birthday, I found a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #4 among the new comics at the IGA in Milton, Vermont, during our family vacation, and overnight I changed from an occasional reader of comic books into a diehard fan.

Now that I’ve navigated a few more birthdays, you can find Spider-Man merch in just about any store that sells clothing or backpacks or you name it. Most folks have at least a passing knowledge of Peter Parker and M.J. and all his friends, and the dastardly villains he’s faced along the way.

It’s fun to have been on the ground floor of a global phenomenon. I kind of get to know what it was like for those first kids who bought Action Comics #1 back in 1938 and discovered this new hero called Superman, or the first kids who bought The All-Story magazine in 1912 and read the story of the son of a lost English lord named Greystoke and how he turned into Tarzan of the Apes.

When you discover something wonderful, you want to share it with the world. And so one of the coolest moments of my life was sitting in a movie theater in 2002 and watching the now-familiar story of a teenager, a radioactive spider, and the tragedy that befalls his Uncle Ben unfold on the big screen almost exactly as it appeared in the original comics. 

All of those thoughts and memories flooded in as I held the 2-year-old’s Spider-Man suit. Peter Parker and I have come a very long way together.

First day of fall

Summer’s gone by the wayside.

Night will be longer than day for the next six months, and even the days will be colder.

But, as a better poet than I once wrote, well, you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool by making his world a little colder.

So how do I avoid such foolishness?

Listen to the wind chimes. I hung them under the window to remind me of music every time the breeze blows.

Pet the dog, who just walked over and sat by my side. “Every dog is an emotional support dog,” said the internet meme, and she reports for duty every morning, even when her body language tells me she herself is melancholy. I suppose I am her emotional support human.

Sit in the sunshine while we have it. Maybe I’ll go out front to the rocking chairs.

(On the front porch now …)

Continue reading “First day of fall”

The Equine Ox

The Equine Ox is upon us — that day when light and dark exist in equal measures, sort of like some folks think about humans.

There is light in us and traces of a darkness beyond understanding, but just as light grows gradually day by day in the dead of winter, the forces that lead us to light can never be full extinguished.

This week I got my first new pair of glasses in many a day — has it been as many as five years? All I know is I’ve needed stronger glasses for many a month. Reading has been more of a challenge lately, especially the fine print, and it’s a relief to see the page clearly again.

It wasn’t as dramatic a change as the day in Hobby Lobby, three days after I got my first pair of glasses at age 47. The eye doctor had perceived my eyes had never quite worked together, my 20/10 eye doing most of the work while my weaker eye came along for the ride. At first everything looked wobbly and askew as my eyes fought the new glasses, until that day in the store when my brain said to my eyes, “Oh! You’re trying to see in three dimensions, why didn’t you say so?” And suddenly I perceived the depth of the aisles, unfolding like an accordion, as the little prism Dr. Pease ordered finally connected my eyes as intended.

I saw that the Viewmasters and 3-D movies didn’t look weirdly artificial as I always had assumed; no, they were cleverly converting two-dimensional pictures into a semblance of real life. And I was in awe of the technology that convinced my lazy eyes to work with each other at last.

Imagine that time hundreds of years ago when eyeglasses were high tech.

Continue reading “The Equine Ox”

Jumping the Hurdle

Part of my morning habit has become to play Hurdle, which is like Wordle except you solve five words: The solution becomes the first guess of the next round, and the four solutions become the first four guesses of the fifth word — at that stage you have two shots to get it right.

I’m also a fan of Wordler, which is like Wordle except you can play as many times as you want, unlike Wordle and Hurdle where there’s only one puzzle per day.

The other day I combined the two games: I used the Hurdle solution to start Wordler, and then I kept using the solutions to start another game.

I could have gone on for a very long time, until the solution to one puzzle was:


Being a writer, to me this felt like a command from another plane of existence.

WRITE what? The possibilities are endless. I can describe the early autumn chill like the first bite of a cool apple, or I can describe the whine of traffic coming and going Doppler-like on the road up the hill from here, or I can describe the morning fog that I wasn’t sure was my eyes or the air.

WRITE what? I can work on tomorrow’s blog post or I can advance my science fiction saga or my Christmas story.

WRITE what? I can just pull a random poem out of the ether, or develop a random scene from any old where, or rage against the machine — that silly machine is always up to something worthy of a good seething rage.

The bottom line was pretty clear, however: WRITE something that fills the page with writing, because that is my calling, after all, and those who don’t heed their calling are, well, heedless.

And so I wrote, which was a better use of my time than an endless game of Hurdle, believe it or not.

Aurora is as good as all that

I finally pulled the trigger and got the vinyl version of Aurora, the fictional immortal album that made Daisy Jones and the Six legendary in the novel and TV mini-series that went mainstream earlier this year. The story follows the meteoric rise and fall of a 1970s rock band that famously split up after performing their most historic concert.

One must conclude that the way to experience an album like this is by listening to it the way we listened to albums in the 1970s.

Many of the songs are really good, good enough that I have played several of them multiple times on YouTube, but something about sitting with the 12-inch album cover, album notes and lyrics sheet in my lap as the record played, added another dimension. I could have been a twentysomething again getting my first taste of the biggest album of the 1970s — the experience really had that feel to it.

The music has become detached from the physical product in this day and age, and we usually don’t take the time to sit down and listen to a project from start to finish — I wonder if it’s because we don’t have the record sleeve to anchor us as the music flows over and around us. Cherrypicking the songs off a music service is not the same experience as listening to hear how “Aurora,” the opening tune, flows into “Let Me Down Easy” and “Kill You To Try.” Then after the breather that “Two Against Three” offers, the all-important tune “Look At Us Now (Honeycomb)” closes out Side A with a flourish.

Side B offers more of the same. Much as Fleetwood Mac and other acts of that era provided needed relief from disco, Aurora rolls out a series of pop rock anthems that could have thrived in the late 1970s or early ’80s. The LP arrived early this week and has been on the turntable again and again as the days went by.

Aurora has my heartiest recommendation, and I can’t commend the LP package highly enough. It feels like a time machine delivered it.

Everybody Lives

The last thing I remember before I was jolted upright and out of bed was seeing a top-ten list — maybe it was books or maybe it was songs or albums or movies or TV shows. All I remember from the dream is seeing the title of the No. 2 item:
Everybody Lives.
Everybody Lives!

There are so many things we have to go through in life, but it’s life — Everybody Lives!
Nobody lives forever, but Everybody Lives!
Everybody gets a broken heart sometime, but Everybody Lives!
Bad stuff happens and sad stuff happens, but Everybody Lives!

I can’t say why that thought galvanized me, but galvanize me it did. And maybe it’s silly to make a big deal about it, but dang it, I’m excited.
We have to live through so much to get where we’re going, but we live every minute of it, and that’s the beauty.

Everybody Lives!

I don’t even care what was No. 1 on the list.